I have a friend who has recently started getting interested in gambling. She just got married, and her new husband is an avid poker player, so she wants to be able to go to the casino with him and enjoy this hobby together.
When she asked me about how she should get started, I recommended that my friend join an online casino so that she can practice a little bit in between her trips to the casino with her husband.
As soon as I mentioned online gambling, my friend got really nervous. She said that she did not want to gamble online because she does not want to put her financial information at risk.
I understand her concern. The truth is that any time we use any online platform for business transactions, we put ourselves at risk of scams and potential identity theft.
Fortunately, there are a lot of good online casinos that want to make sure that their customers can trust them. They use several different technologies to protect their customer’s private information. But, there are also rogue casinos that take advantage of gamblers who do not know any better.
Everyone should take the issue of online casino scams seriously, but that does not mean that you have to avoid online gambling altogether. There are a number of things that you can do to protect yourself and your information. Here are five tips that can help you avoid online casino scams so that you can gamble online with confidence.
Tip #1- Know About Common Scams
You cannot protect yourself against a threat if you do not know what the threat looks like. Unfortunately, rogue casinos are not going to have a flashing sign that says, “untrustworthy.” Their URL is not going to be something like “scam.casino.net.” The unfortunate reality is that the scam casinos are really good at making themselves look like trustworthy ones.
But once you know about how common casino scams work, you will be able to spot those casinos a little easier. You might have an idea in your head of how these scams might look, and you might be surprised to find that they work differently than you would expect. So, here are a few scams that you can be on the lookout for.
One common way that online casinos might scam their customers is to take too much time processing payments. When you want to withdraw funds from your online casino account, you should be able to do that without too much hassle. All online casinos take some time to process withdrawals, and it is not surprising if it takes a week or so. But, scam casinos might take months to process your withdrawal.
If an online casino takes too long to process your payment, most likely, they do not have enough funds to cover the payment. They may owe money to software companies and affiliate partners, but they should not use money that belongs to you to pay for those things.
Some online casinos take too long to process payments because they are looking for an excuse to avoid paying you. They are allowed to refuse payment to customers that were cheating or someone who violated the rules in some way.
Unfortunately, they do not need proof to hold onto your money. If an online casino is refusing to process your withdrawal, it is a scam.
Every time you create an account on a website, whether it is a casino or not, you have to click the box that says, “I have read and agree to the terms and conditions.” We all just tick that box and move on with our lives without ever actually reading those terms.
Rogue casinos know that a lot of people do not actually read the terms and conditions. So, they include predatory terms that give them a legal right to take advantage of customers. For example, they might place a limit on how much money you can win with bonus funds, or exclude certain games from their promotions without telling you. They might say that you have to wager a certain amount before you can make withdrawals.
Those are all examples of predatory terms that rogue casinos might sneak into their conditions. If you have a problem with a casino, you cannot do anything about it because you checked that box that says that you agree to those terms. The worst scam casinos also change their terms without notifying you, which means they can change the conditions any time they want to avoid paying you.
The last example of a typical online casino scam is unfair games. Gambling always involves taking a risk. Every casino game has a house edge that ensures that the casino makes a profit in the long run. But, casinos are not allowed to change the games to make them unfair. They cannot make it impossible for their customers to win.
Online casinos use random number generators to determine which cards get dealt or what numbers the dice land on. Their random number generator software needs to be random because randomness is what gives everyone an equal chance to win. Watch out for games that appear to have patterns or rules that determine the results of a game.
When you play table games, there are particular rules that the casino can modify, whether it is online or in person. For example, the casino can decide whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft seventeen in blackjack. Those rules can change the game in the casino’s favor, but there are only a few that are acceptable modifications.
Rogue casinos may offer games with strange rules or rules that you will not find at any land-based casino.
If you find a game that seems a little bit different than usual, and the difference works out in favor of the casino, you should look for a different casino to play at. Unfair games ruin the gambling experience for everyone.
Tip #2- Learn the Warning Signs
Now that you know what kinds of scams to watch out for, you need to know how to spot some of the warnings signs. There are a few things that rogue casinos usually do that act as precursors to those common scams.
First of all, you need to be mindful of any time that the casino changes its policies. I know that it is annoying to get a bunch of emails from a company whenever it is changing something, but those emails are actually a vital part of protecting you. Any casino that makes changes to its policies without notifying customers in advance is probably doing something shady.
Of course, trustworthy casinos sometimes have to make a few changes to their policies. It is inevitable because they often need to respond to changing laws or new technologies. However, those changes should be few and far between, and they should always come with advanced notice. If an online casino makes changes to something every couple of weeks, that is a sign that they are trying to avoid getting caught doing something they should not be doing.
Similarly, be wary of casinos that change their banking methods or withdrawal processes often. Again, if they have a legitimate reason to change something, that is okay, but it should not happen on a regular basis. You need to be especially mindful of casinos that adjust how long their withdrawal process takes.
If a casino that usually processes payments in seven days, starts taking twice as long, it is probably because they do not have the money to cover the payment.
Another warning sign is casinos that make sudden offers whenever you begin to look at making a withdrawal. If the casino is trying to avoid making payments to customers, they will offer new promotions that have complicated terms. As soon as you accept that bonus, you will not be allowed to make withdrawals until you meet specific requirements.
The casino is hoping that by the time you meet those requirements, you will have lost your money anyway, or they will have had time to change their policies. Remember, any offer that seems too good to be true probably is too good to be true.
Any time the online casino does something that might be considered mistreating their customers, you need to run in the opposite direction. The definition of mistreatment may vary from one person to another, so be mindful that you take other people’s complaints with a grain of salt.
Sending dozens of spam emails or notifications on your cell phone is one example. Some people get annoyed after one or two emails, but if an online casino is sending you dozens of emails, that is a sign that they are desperate to get people gambling. You may also want to watch for an excessive number of ads on other websites.
Poor customer service is another sign that you may want to avoid a particular casino. If they have a customer service telephone number, make sure that you can get through to them when you need to. Online casinos should always respond to emails within twenty-four hours or one business day. It does not happen often, but some online casinos have been known to threaten clients after a few adverse interactions. That is definitely not the kind of casino that you want to give your business to.
Tip #3- Research the Casino Before You Sign Up
So, you know what kinds of things you need to watch for now, but a lot of those examples may only be visible once you have already started using an online casino. At that point, it may be too late to protect yourself. How do you know which casinos to avoid before you ever get signed up? That is where research comes in.
Before you ever sign up for an online casino, you should always do a google search that includes the casino name. Scroll through the results to find reviews or forums that might give you information about that particular casino. You may also want to search for things like casino name + complaints or casino name + scams. Those search results will tell you a lot about the issues that other customers have experienced in the past.
Some casinos may have had issues in the past, but they have since made changes to their policies to make sure that their customers are protected. Look for statements from the casino that acknowledge previous issues and explain how they addressed it. I am much more willing to trust a casino that can recognize that they made mistakes than one that pretends everything was fine.
You can also search for online casino blacklists, like the one that we have listed here. Blacklists will tell you about online casinos that have several proven instances of scamming their customers. We need to have proof of multiple problems before we can add a casino to our blacklist, so it is not all-inclusive. There might be some rogue casinos that are not on any blacklists because their issue has not been proven yet, but you definitely want to avoid any casino that is on a blacklist.
Another way to research an online casino before you sign up is to ask friends and family about their experiences. If your friends have had negative experiences, you may want to avoid that casino. If you do not have friends or family members that gamble online, you can join online casino forums and ask fellow gamblers to share their experiences that way.
Reading reviews about online casinos is another way to get information about them.
All of our online casino recommendations have been thoroughly vetted by expert gamblers, who have prepared comprehensive reviews of these casinos. These reviews will tell you everything you need to know about a particular online casino, including its trustworthiness.
It may seem extreme, but the more you research online casinos before you sign up, the more confident you can be in your choice. Your due diligence will pay off when you get to enjoy an online casino without worrying about getting scammed.
Tip #4- Read the Terms and Conditions
You have probably picked up on this already, but one of the best ways to protect yourself against online casino scams is to thoroughly read the terms and conditions before you sign up for an online casino. I know it is boring, and it is a lot of legal jargon that will probably put you to sleep, but the only way to tell if a casino has predatory terms is actually to read those terms.
Most of us will not fully comprehend the terms and conditions that we read. They are always written with legal jargon that can be confusing to read. It is okay if you do not understand every single detail. But reading through the policies will help you to at least be familiar with some of the basic rules. You do not want to be surprised by complex wagering requirements or withdrawal limits. Even the most rudimentary understanding is better than not reading the terms at all.
Unfortunately, it is not enough to read the terms and conditions one time. You will need to read them before you sign up for your account, but every time that you sign up for bonuses and other promotions, there will be more terms and conditions for you to read.
Online casinos often put their predatory terms in unexpected places. They want you to think that you are safe when you create your account, but when you go to accept a bonus offer, they might hide new rules in there to take advantage of the people who do not want to read through the terms a second time.
No one likes reading the terms and conditions, and most of us are automatically click the button to accept without ever thinking twice about it. Fortunately, most of our other online business transactions are well-protected, and we do not have to worry about our information getting compromised. But online gambling is one area that you may be more vulnerable when you realize. So, always read the terms and conditions for an online casino, even when you do not want to.
Tip #5- Check for Licensing Information
The final tip I have for you that will help you protect yourself from online casino scams is to check the licensing information for the online casino that you sign up for. Every online casino has to get a license from a regulatory office, and that licensing organization is responsible for making sure that the casinos they license are operating fairly.
If you are gambling online in the United States, you are most likely going to use an offshore site that is owned by a company in another country. American companies are not allowed to operate online casinos unless they are in a state that has explicitly legalized online gambling.
Those of you who happen to live in New Jersey, Nevada, or Delaware can rest assured that your state government is enforcing consumer protection laws with online casinos. More states are in the process of legalizing online casinos, so check the most recent information in your state before you start gambling.
Everyone else will have to choose an offshore site to gamble online. Gambling laws vary from one country to another, so you need to know where the website operator is registered.
Rogue casinos often choose countries that have relaxed gambling laws, such as Costa Rica, so that they can get away with changing their games.
In addition to knowing where your online casino is registered, you also need to understand who licenses them. Online casinos should have something on their website that explains where they get their license from, but it is easy for them to post a picture without actual approval from those licensing agencies. Once you have found the company that licenses the casino, you can check that company’s website to verify that they have actually approved the casino you are looking at.
Land-based casinos are subject to regular audits that make sure they are running their games and their finances fairly. Online casinos should be subjected to those same kinds of examinations, but it depends on the country where they operate. You can search for the name of the casino and audit reports to see if they have been audited recently and to find out what kinds of things the auditor noticed.
One of the things that you should look for when examining licenses is how the casino manages their finances. When you deposit money into an online casino account, you do not want your money to go straight into the casino’s account. Player funds should be held in a separate account that is different from the casino’s operational expense accounts. It should be clearly stated that the casino keeps player funds in a separate account, and the licensing organization should have access to verify that information.
I understand my friend’s concern about the legitimacy of online casinos and the risks associated with scams. It is wise to be wary of anything that might compromise your finances. But, you do not have to be so scared of online casino scams that you avoid online gambling altogether. Instead, take a proactive approach to protect yourself against any unsavory business tactics.
By educating yourself and taking a few steps to learn about the casinos you are working with, you can protect yourself. You will be able to enjoy your online gambling activities, even more, when you can participate confidently because you have done your homework.
Of course, you can always just check our recommendations for legitimate online gambling sites.